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A robust diet is key to enjoying a healthy life. But for seniors, a variety of circumstances can make it challenging to eat the full amount of recommended nutrients that our aging bodies need each day. This can lead to loss of weight, which may affect a senior’s overall health and quality of life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.6 percent of Americans aged 60 and over were underweight in 2011–2012. In comparison, 0.9 percent of adults ages 40–59 were underweight in the same study.
“When seniors experience unanticipated weight loss, it reduces energy levels and, therefore, the ability to participate in activities,” says Caitlin Rogers, Sunrise Senior Living’s vice president of Dining & Senior Nutrition. “This, in turn, may increase feelings of isolation and depression and impact the body’s ability to heal, among other things. Maintaining a healthy weight can promote overall wellness, which is why helping residents eat full, nutritious meals is a focus for Sunrise.”
A common way to help address the loss of too much weight is to use dietary supplements. These are available in a number of forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids. At Sunrise communities, we have a “food first” philosophy. Through our Fortified Foods program, Sunrise uses real, homemade items to help meet specific nutritional needs of residents, including those who are underweight, have pressure ulcers, have been eating less than usual, or have other care needs where they may benefit from this special program.
“Quality of life and intake are much improved if we rely on real food instead of supplements,” says Rogers. “Fortified Foods are authentic food items that taste great, which helps to preserve seniors’ independence and dignity.”
Fortified Foods are available to residents who have a physician’s order. The Fortified Foods that are served contain higher levels of protein and calories than their traditional counterparts, and residents can enjoy them with meals or as snacks throughout the day. By working with a resident’s physician and carefully preparing each meal, team members can help residents get the nutrients they need without relying on tablets or capsules.
Fortified Foods recipes are just as delicious and appetizing as the unmodified foods served in our communities, and they can be customized to residents’ preferences. Our recipes include plenty of milkshakes, smoothies, and soups, as well as other favorites such as mashed potatoes, vegetable frittatas, peanut butter spread, and more.
“If it doesn’t taste good, no one will eat it!” says Rogers. “We fortify our normal recipes, for items like soup and oatmeal, with some simple additions that increase protein and calorie count. We’re using the same recipes that we always do as a starting point. Our fortified shakes and smoothies come in many different flavors, all made with fresh produce, dairy, juices and other ingredients, resulting in a delicious flavor.”
In keeping with our commitment to personalized care for all residents, Sunrise team members regularly assess the diet and intake of residents eating Fortified Foods. This helps ensure that any necessary or desired adjustments can be made so that residents can enjoy the food they love with the nutrients they need.
“We’re always mindful of resident preferences, likes, and dislikes,” says Rogers. “That’s important, if we want to make sure residents are consuming enough calories to keep them healthy, strong, and active. With Fortified Foods, that’s no different.”
Join Us for a Meal
Our Sunrise communities understand how essential the dining experience is to our residents. We pride ourselves on making mealtime something to look forward to by serving delicious meals that are nutritionally sound.
To learn more about Fortified Foods and the other dining options at Sunrise, we invite you to join us for a meal. Contact a Sunrise community near you to schedule a visit!